The Carpay Decision and a Canary

One can’t help but feel Dr Allen’s pain. In fact many of us have felt Dr Allen’s pain, although not to such a debilitating degree.

Dr Allen is a 36 year old dentist from Okotoks. In Dec 2007 he injured his back playing hockey. He spent all of 2008 and part of 2009 doing the rounds of physiotherapy, acupuncture, facet injections, and drugs. In May 2009 his specialist recommended surgery. There was one tiny snag—the surgery couldn’t be performed until June 2011.

Unable to tolerate another two years of agony, Dr Allen found a surgeon in Great Falls, Montana who agreed to perform the operation in Dec 2009 for the price of $77,000. Dr Allen feels much better now, and not simply because his wallet is $77,000 lighter.

After the surgery Dr Allen hooked up with John Carpay, a lawyer, who took Dr Allen’s case to the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench. Mr Carpay argued that (1) the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in the Chaoulli case that a ban on private health insurance under Quebec law infringed Mr Chaoulli’s Charter right to security of the person, (2) Alberta’s ban on private health insurance is the same as Quebec’s ban and therefore is unconstitutional and (3) Dr Allen should be allowed to sue the government for reimbursement of his expenses as well as damages for irreparable harm to his health due to the delays in obtaining surgery.

Mr Carpay

Mr Carpay and his client lost.

The judge said…

Mr Carpay is not taking this defeat lying down. On his website he says Mr Justice Jeffrey ruled that Dr Allen could not rely on the Chaoulli decision and that Dr Allen would have to re-prove or re-demonstrate the Supreme Court’s finding that the government’s monopoly over healthcare imposes suffering (and sometimes death) on patients on wait lists.

This is an overstatement and simply not true.

The reason why Mr Carpay lost the case was that he failed to provide a lick of evidence to show that Alberta’s ban on private health insurance caused the two year delay in Mr Allen’s case.*

Mr Justice Jeffrey pointed to a number of alternative explanations for the delay including underfunding, mismanagement, shortage of doctors, a disproportionate incidence of this type of back injury, unexpected population increases or differences in the concentration and distribution of populations.

Furthermore there was no evidence to show that if private health insurance were available in Alberta, Dr Allen would have qualified for it, would have bought it and if the insurer had accepted the good dentist’s claim his wait time would have been shorter.

Application denied.

Evidence based decision making

The battle to privatize healthcare is fought on two fronts. First, private insurers are fighting for the right to augment taxpayer funded health insurance with private health insurance (for those who can afford it).  Mr Justice Jeffrey’s decision in the Carpay case shut that down—at least for now.

Second, private healthcare providers are incrementally shifting healthcare provided in public facilities to private clinics where the services will be delivered more cheaply and more quickly (for those who can afford it), thereby reducing the load on the public system. It’s all about market efficiency.

But where is the evidence?

The Canary Report

Studies like Wendy Armstrong’s Canary Report** challenge the blind assumption that the private sector is more efficient than the public sector. Ms Armstrong conducted a study of cataract surgeries performed in Calgary, Edmonton and Lethbridge. All of the surgeries were funded by public dollars.

In Calgary 100% of the cataract surgeries were performed in private clinics, in Edmonton 20% of the surgeries were performed in private clinics, and in Lethbridge none of the surgeries were performed in private clinics. The wait times in Calgary (100% private) were the longest. The wait times in Lethbridge (100% public) were the shortest.

A canary, not a cataract

Ophthalmologists in all three centres charged the province the same government-mandated fee for the procedure; however Calgary ophthalmologists charged an additional fee for the more comfortable soft lens (an extra $250 to $750 per eye); Edmonton ophthalmologists charged about half that and the Lethbridge ophthalmologists implanted the soft lenses at no additional cost.

Bottom line: Ms Armstrong discovered that contrary to popular opinion, the privatization of cataract surgery increased costs and wait times. Anyone who studies market behavior will not be surprised by this—an entrepreneur who controls a significant chunk of the market will charge whatever the market will bear.    

Stories are not evidence

Canadians cherish publicly funded and publicly delivered healthcare above everything else…period! A study conducted by the Environics Institute in 2010 found that 85% of Canadians ranked healthcare as the country’s most important national symbol, outpacing the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the flag, national parks, “O Canada”, the RCMP, multiculturalism, Canadian literature and music, hockey (yes hockey!), bilingualism, the CBC, Ottawa and the Queen.***

Dr Danielle Martin

There is no question that the Canadian healthcare system is under stress—we all have stories of poor outcomes resulting from chronic underfunding and the mismanagement of resources—however, as pointed out by Dr Danielle Martin who testified before the US Senate committee on Obamacare, “You don’t build a healthcare system based on stories.”****

The reverse is also true. You don’t tear down a healthcare system based on blind faith in free enterprise.   Instead you follow Mr Justice Jeffry’s lead. You demand evidence to support the pitch that the free market can and will do a better job.

Either that or drive to Lethbridge for your cataract operation.  

Disclosure: Ms Soapbox and Ms Armstrong have been friends since 2011.

*Allen v Her Majesty the Queen 2014 ABQB 184, starting at paragraph 39

**The Consumer Experience with Cataract Surgery and Private Clinics in Alberta: The Canary in the Mine Shaft, Jan 2000

***Chronic Condition by Jeffrey Simpson, p 270

****Calgary Herald April 5, 2014, A15

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40 Responses to The Carpay Decision and a Canary

  1. Jim Lees says:

    Hi Susan, another excellent and relevant article. It brings to mind an ism from my days in Human Resources, and policy development – don’t build policy based on exceptions (or anomalies). Jim Lees

    Sent from my iPad


    • Thanks Jim. We have a similar saying in law—bad facts make for poor law. It usually applies to the case where a bus full of nuns gets wiped out on a road. The judge has to resist the urge to hang the bus driver because of the pathos of the situation. Building anything on one-offs is a really bad idea!

  2. Gary Beaton says:

    The Government of Ontario experimented with the relaxation of out-of-province healthcare provision in the early 1990s. This was in effect an experiment in private market provision of some services deemed to be in acute shortage in Ontario since the out-of-province providers were located in the states of Michigan and New York. Juvenile psychiatry was one such area and whole clinics were opened up with as high as 90% Ontario youth in residence. Distance and crossing an international border imposed huge visitation costs on families already dealing with the issue of mentally ill teenagers. Removing children from familiar if not supportive surroundings did not work with aboriginal children as we know.
    The root cause of this was mismanagement rather than any innate superiority of the private health care system. In fact when the Ontario system was somewhat adequately funded and properly managed Americans regularly crossed the border for quality health services in hospitals in our border cities.
    The Ontario Health Services Appeal Board regularly heard appeals for out-of-province medical service provision. The service charge was always capped by OHIP fees negotiated with the Ontario Medical Association but would trigger private insurer payouts that were not insignificant and in many cases could be greater than the OHIP rates.
    The unseen effect of a relaxation of OHIP out-of-province coverage across the board would have led to a dramatic escalation of private medical insurance rates in effect at the time. The private sector relied on the prudence of the fee discipline imposed by OHIP.
    As for the stories about what can happen when private health care meets a sick patient – when medical judgement is replaced by an accountant’s remunerative impulses – the records of the Ontario Health Appeal Board are full of those.

    former member Medical Review Committee,
    College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario

    • Gary, what a terrific example of all of the unforeseen consequences of mismanaged government policy. I don’t know if the PC government engages in what we in industry used to call “war gaming”. It’s where you run out all of the possible consequences of a certain course of action in order to anticipate those nasty side effects that will cost you big bucks at the end of the day. Actually as I wrote that I realized the answer to this question is no, the PCs do not engage in war gaming. If they did they would have reined in Alison Redford a long time ago. As it is they’ll spend the next few weeks trying to distance themselves from the former premier, but they’re as much to blame for her excesses as she is.

  3. E Davison says:

    I always used to laugh at what Ralph Klein said about two tier health care. “If the people who can afford private health care get out of the way there will be more for those who can’t. Very simplistic and it sounds good if you don’t think about it. However all the best doctors will follow those private patients because that is where the money is. I believe it is called Greshams Law.

    Also I bring back up long term care again. If it is such good business for companies, why do they need subsidies to build their facilities?

    Public health care may not be perfect but it is fair. But it is funny that we have to repeat history again and again. My dad told me that before public health care doctors used to say “1/3rd can pay, 1/3rd can’t pay and 1/3rd won’t pay”. However most of the people who were adults under the former private health care system are either in their 80’s or 90’s or they have passed on. Once again Sue excellent blog!

    • Very good point Mr Davison–why are the private providers of long term care in such difficulty? I am re-watching the US Senate sub-committee hearing on health care access and costs. Senator Bernie Sanders just asked Dr Victor Rodwin, a professor in Health Policy & Management at New York University, why the cost of drugs and treatment in the US is so much higher than in Canada or France. Dr Rodwin replied it’s because the costs aren’t regulated. Senator Sanders said isn’t regulation interference with the free market? Dr Rodwin replied that the free market system doesn’t exist anywhere in health care–it simply doesn’t work. Alberta’s experience with long term care appears to validate Dr Rodwin’s position.

    • Julia says:

      How is public health care fair? Taking by force from some (which is called stealing) to pay for a system that doesn’t even work. A system in which you have no choice. A system in which you have to wait hours for being served and not even well served. In a system where there is no competition, there is no need to be productive because the client (patient) has no other choice but to be served by this monopoly in place. Public health care is progressivism/communism and no government should be involved in it, or in education or in almost anything.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Yes Julia we all fully understand that. It is called freedom of choice just like in the US, I am sure you would suggest. Except that in the US 42 million people have the choice of having treatment at all.
        Our system is certainly not perfect but we can also thank that to those who want to move us in the direction you propose, and left it in total disarray because they did not do one or the other or even an hybrid. They burned the organization we had in place and run.
        I also understand your point of government not being involved in anything – no regulation, no education no nothing – yes that is what the end result of that policy is NO NOTHING. The rich or now the super rich get whatever they want and the rest of us fight for the crumbs.
        I appreciate your suggestion but we have had people trying that for the last 3 decades and the results are pretty well obvious.

      • Carlos the US Senate committee hearings on Obamacare support your points. American research shows that their privately funded healthcare system results in much higher administrative costs because someone has to shuffle all those health insurance claims through the system. Dr Martin said that extrapolating from the data of her home province, Ontario, the US could save over $27.6 billion a year in avoided administration fees. The issue of private healthcare delivery is complicated and I certainly don’t profess to know all the ins and outs, however the Canary report demonstrates that just because certain procedures are delivered by the private market doesn’t mean they’re going to be any quicker or cheaper. Having said all that our system is not perfect by any stretch. We need to find ways to make it better, but throwing it out all together and replacing it with a failed private delivery model is not the answer.

      • Julia, based on your last sentence I don’t think we’re going to see eye to eye on this issue, so I won’t try to convince you that there is indeed a significant role for the public sector in delivering publicly funded services. What concerns me is the belief that the free market is more efficient than the public sector and if left to its own devices everything would be peachy. This has not been borne out by history. The 2008 financial meltdown is a very recent example of the spectacular failure of free enterprise. Then to top it off the entrepreneurs convinced the government that they were “too big to fail” and got a bailout that cost the taxpayers trillions of dollars. Something is seriously out of whack.

  4. Tom McIntosh says:

    A first rate summary and analysis of the case — I’m going to share this with my students in my Politics of Health class.

    • Thank you Tom! Given your extensive research in this area (including the publication of The Romanow Papers I’m honoured. Feel free to encourage your students to post their opinions on the topic!

  5. A balanced and measured assessment, Susan. Well done.

    • Thanks Phil. I’m thankful that Dr Allen’s case landed in Mr Justice Jeffry’s court. I had the pleasure of working with Paul Jeffry before he became a QB judge. His advice was always thoughtful and well balanced. I’m not the least bit surprised that his ruling in this case is based on a careful review of the facts and a thoughtful application of the law.

  6. Thanks Susan for providing the stats on the extent to which Canadians value–no, cherish–our publicly funded, administered, and delivered health care. As chair of Calgary’s Friends of Medicare, I will spread this information as far and wide as I possibly can. I’m new to your blog–will check in frequently!

    • You’re very welcome Judy. Unlike Sally Pipes, who presented the free market argument against Obamacare at the recent US Senate committee hearings, most Canadians don’t oppose healthcare for the poor and the elderly on principle. Thank God!

  7. jillbrowne says:

    Great comments!
    As a side effect, the result in financial terms is that the government has saved $77,000. Its numbers look better every time one of us goes outside the public system at our own expense.
    This emphasizes the need to judge performance in health care by patient wellness metrics, not just by financial ones. If we hear the system “reduced costs” by $77,000, we need to ask, “Who paid?” and “How did that affect the patient?”.
    Love the blog, Susan, and the many and varied views and pieces of information everyone is providing.

    • Agreed Jill, another way we can judge performance is to make the AHS budget completely transparent. Right now it’s a $19 billion line item. The Health Minister says we should be comfortable with this “trust me” attitude because he has systems in place, including auditors, to ensure that our tax dollars are well spent. So how does he explain the revelations by the WR that AHS spent $250 million in sole service consulting contracts (including $600,000 in executive coaching) in 18 months? So far his excuse is either (1) I wasn’t aware of this or (2) it was the former AHS Board’s fault. For that money Mr Allen and 3245 other people who’ve been crippled with back pain could have had surgery and gotten on with their lives. What a pathetic bunch!

  8. anonymous says:

    Based upon recent photos in the press, it appears that the ‘Heinrich Himmler’ look is the new fashion for the bold new extreme right-wingers in Ottawa and Calgary these days.

    • Anon: I saw a video by Naomi Wolfe in which she describes a trip to the US detention centre at Guantanamo Bay. Her description of the doctors and nurses she met would tally with our impression of Himmler. But as these clips show, even Himmler was a child once…what happened?

      • anonymous says:

        “…even Himmler was a child once…what happened?”

        The old question, ‘nature or nurture?’. Probably a combo pack. I think with proper education, and vaccines, that mindless brutality can be eradicated from the human species. And sometimes a rainbow is just a rainbow.

  9. Elaine Fleming says:

    Some proponents of for-profit players in health care delivery like to throw appealing catch words at us like “choice”, and “freedom”. There are obvious problems with putting a marketplace template onto getting necessary, even life and death services. The first, is who chooses to be sick? If you have suffered a stroke, are you going to start shopping around for health care providers? On the other end of things, if you have cystic fibrosis, do you think an insurance company will choose you to provide coverage for? As for “freedom” – I know you have listened to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders speak to this, Susan. He made reference to the millions of Americans who do not have any or enough health insurance through lack of affordability/eligibility and described this sarcastically as “freedom to die”.

  10. Dylan says:

    healthcare is largely privately delivered in Canada (yes those services covered by provincial health coverage) with some exceptions. you shouldn’t say it is publicly delivered.

  11. Verna says:

    Thank you, Susan for your keen legal understanding of this important decision. I am concerned that Mr. Carpay, and others, seem to believe that the answer to the wait list in our public Medicare is to open it up to private health insurance companies, thus giving more “choice” for the citizens and would take the pressure off the public system for the rest of us.

    One needs to have a closer look at Australia. It seems that they patterned their Medicare after the Canadian Medicare system. But established, and supported, a private, parallel system believing it would take the pressure off the public system.

    Unlike what we have seen in North America, all private health insurance companies in Australia are compelled by law to accept all applicants, even those with pre-existing conditions. But, the insurance companies, however, are allowed to impose “Limitation”, (e.g. a 12-month waiting period) for anyone deemed by the company’s physician to have a pre-existing condition .

    Also, all companies are allowed under the law to have “Exclusions” within their policies. Among the most common “Exclusions” are Hip and Knee replacements, cataract and cardio surgeries.

    Indeed, Australian citizens have “Choice”. In fact they have such a head-spinning array of Choices that many hire “Brokers” to lead them through the hundreds of companies, and the myriad of policies within each company, to determine what they or their family might need in the next year.

    Private health insurance rates have been rising approximately 7 percent annually, and as the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman (PHIO)states, “There is a particular danger in exclusionary products for older people as many less expensive insurances have exclusions
    for the very things that older people may require such as major joint replacement and cataract surgery”.

    All of these “Exclusions”, however, are available for Free in their public Medicare system.

    And how is it working for the wait lists? Studies have shown that, rather than taking the pressure off their public Medicare, it has actually made it worse, as it drains public finances and human resources from their public Medicare. In fact, the Government subsidizes people’s private health insurance premiums up to 30% per year, for a total of nearly $ 4 B tax dollars per year.

    Speaking of tax dollars:
    Is it ironic that John Carpay, as former head of the Taxpayers’ Association, through his Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms,receives Charity Status (ie. tax subsidy) to take to Court a Government that is elected and supported by Taxpayers?

  12. David Grant says:

    Great article, as usual. I find that that no matter how much evidence that you present to people it seems that this myth of privatization seems to persist. It persists because of the massive lobbying on the behalf of groups like Mr. Carpay’s Taxpayers’ Association, the Fraser Institute, the business pages of all newspapers, the media, including the CBC, and the anecdotes presented in this piece. There are, of course, problems that need to be dressed here in our health care system, that allow people to become very susceptible to this kind of persuasion. In trying to convince the public on this issue, we have to focus on the people who are sitting on the sidelines and aren’t the true believers. It is hard to change the minds of true believers but you could reach this group of people.

  13. G Rose says:

    It makes Interesting reading all these posts, and here’s my horrific experience of Alberta Healthcare and their idea of accountability – or should I say Alberta Health scare!

    G Rose.

    • Mr Rose: everyone, absolutely everyone, should read your story set out at the link you’ve provided! Most people would have given up years ago, but thank god you were “a dog with a bone”. Your point about accountability is bang on. While you were struggling to get relief for your wife AHS was busy running up almost $1 billion in consulting fees for everything under sun from the placement of art in AHS offices to leadership training courses for the dozens of apparently inept VPs that are in charge of AHS. The buck stops at the top and that would be Health Minister Fred Horne.
      I’m so glad that your story has a happy ending…entirely due to your courage and persistence in the face of a bungling incompetent bureaucracy.
      All the best to you and your wife.

      • Gary Rose says:

        Dear Susan,

        Thank you for your reply and good wishes.

        The story is shocking and incredible to say the very least. We emigrated from the UK in Oct 2009 and this literally happened in January 2010 – some 3 months later and literally consumed our lives in dealing with the AHS.

        We all know that 90% of politicians are one down from a second-hand car dealer – the UK’s included. However, having lived in both countries I can honestly say, I have never in my life known such delusional statements as I’ve heard and experienced from the one & only Fred Horne.

        The laughable thing is, & I’m really not sure which more frightening, the fact he actually believes his own twaddle and propaganda, or the fact he’s the Government Health Minister for Alberta.

        I see his role, to which he’s no doubt paid handsomely for, that he has a “duty of care” to deliver quality healthcare for Albertans and deal with things when they go wrong – as in our case – which he clearly failed to do!

        As I explained in the webpage, I wrote to Fred Horne in November & December 2012 – then again in January 2013 virtually begging for his intervention – not once but 4 times and he didn’t even have the courtesy to reply – not once!

        I then contacted a Jamie Komarnki – a journalist with the Calgary Herald who did the reporting on the Martinez case – the 23yr old who had the misfortune to have the same surgeon Dr Samer Elkassem 2 months after my wife’s surgery, unfortunately he bled to death!

        Surprise surprise! Literally, within 1 hour of sending an email to the journalist I get a typed up letter from Fred Horne! You could say: “how coincidental is that”? 4 months of begging letters – nothing! An email to a journalist, and as if by magic in 1 hour I get a reply – I think even David Blaine would struggle to pull that trick off. Seriously, I think we all know the answer.

        Here’s an extract from his letter, now bear in mind at this point – we’re 2 years plus down the line of medical incompetence at its best – my wife in agony and dropping to the floor 2 to 3 times a day into the foetal position – to be told by the Minister of Health for Alberta – Mr Fred Horne – says:

        “I realise your wife’s condition following an appendectomy at the Rockyview Hospital is a source of stress to you both, if you have concerns about a physician you should report it to the Royal College of surgeons. Meanwhile, I have forwarded your letter to Dr Chris Eagle”.

        I filed an expenses claim to the AHS following our trip to the UCLA Los Angeles in order to get this fiasco resolved. The claim consisted of 6 pages, its now been 6 months – that’s effectively a page a month and still no one can make decision! Yep! To the date of this post I’m still waiting to hear……

        If this had been Horne, Redford or Smith there’s no way on this earth they would have been treated like this – not a chance!

        The UK is not perfect by any means – but heavens there’s accountability and watchdogs to see it’s enforced, and people who are paid to be accountable – are held accountable!

        What I have found in Canada is, in particular Alberta, all people tend and want to do in key positions is, sweep things under a huge rug, or just simply ignore the issue until people either get fed-up or run of funds and then in the officials eyes that’s the problem solved – because its gone away – not because it was dealt with in a professional manner but because people just ran out of energy – and that seems to be the order of the day here – ignore it until it goes away!

        I just thank heavens there’s people like you who create sites like this to expose this incompetence and the people for what they really are – (I best pause at this point).

        Given our experience, I’ve received quite a few emails from people all across Canada who have been left in a diabolical state following surgery with absolutely know where for them to turn & – yes, you guessed it – we’re back to that good old word again:


        That said, I’ve seriously given thought to creating a site where people caught in this situation can upload it and hopefully shame the Government into acting after seeing exactly how serious this issue is. The papers are a waste of time – I tried them all to get support and help – they didn’t even reply because they don’t want it out in the province just exactly what a dire situation it is – all they want to report on is flowers and how good it all is – the truth – forget it – we’re back to that even bigger “huge rug” again.

        You can hide things as much as you like, but until the truth comes out it will never get dealt with!

        That is where the UK differs, the papers would have a field day with all this and expose the people responsible so you know who “not” to vote for and hold them accountable for their actions – or lack of!

        I know exactly who I wrote to, even the Harper Government and no one wanted to know. Rest assured, I’ll be remembering that when voting comes….. Useless the lot of them!


      • Gary, your comment about the lack of accountability and the government’s tendency to sweep these problems under the rug reminded me of the rhetoric we’ve heard in connection with the new Alberta Health Act, in particular the appointment of a Health Advocate. I wondered whether in your search for answers you’d had a chance to touch base with Mary Marshall. I’ve spoken to someone who said they had a very informative meeting with Ms Marshall, but I do not know whether Ms Marshall has the power to make any changes that would help others avoid this nightmare. Here’s a link to a website announcing her appointment.
        All the best to you and your wife!

      • Gary says:

        Hi Susan,

        Thank you for your reply, and the information regarding Mary Marshall. I have just sent her an email so I’ll where that takes us.

        I’ll keep you posted…..



  14. art New says:

    When we talk about the public health care system or any other government system , we always seem to forget about the elephant in the room: public service pensions. This is a huge cost that is not paying for itself, Present liability is $19.5b OF WHICH TAXPAYERS ARE ON THE HOOK FOR $10.8b. Public service pensions, according to that good liberal, Warren Buffit, are a larger economic threat than the real estate meltdown of the last few years. So, why are pensions not on the table for discussion?

  15. Gary Rose says:

    Hi Susan,

    I just thought I’d update you as to developments with the Mary Marshall advice you gave me.

    After clicking the link, scroll right down to July 8th for the current update.

    I’ve just had a read receipt come through to say Fred Horne’s office and a receipt from Alison Redford’s office now have the details too. We’ll just see where this now goes…..



  16. Gary, thank you for the update. I’m sorry that the interim Health Advocate route came to nothing. Incidentally the interim advocate has been replaced by a permanent advocate. Deb Prowse is a Calgary lawyer whose mother died when a hospital pharmacy mistakenly put potassium chloride instead of sodium chloride into her dialysis solution. It might be worth copying Deb with your correspondence although given the mess of AHS buraucracy I don’t know whether it would do much good.

    The treatment you and your wife received at the hands of AHS simply boggles the mind. A few weeks ago I talked with a doctor who’d been the medical director at a Calgary hospital before all of the hospital regions were rolled up into AHS. He said the regional system was much better able to deal with a patient who’d received poor treatment because the patient could bring his complaint directly to the medical director in charge of the hospital where the mistreatment occurred. This created a personal relationship which forced the medical director to deal with the issue. Now that’s all gone. A patient who’s been mistreated simply falls into a black hole.

    This is appalling given the government’s claim that we have a world class healthcare system and are the richest province in Canada.

    Please continue to let me and my readers know how you make out.

    I’m so glad your wife has had a permanent recovery!

    • Gary Rose says:

      Hi Susan,

      Thank you for a swift reply. I’ll try the new advocate and see where that goes. My main gripe – for the want of a better expression is,

      A/. We were just left to sort this mess out ourselves.
      B/. Its cost us thousands of dollars to get this fiasco rectified and Alberta Health just seems to
      want to not even acknowledge this or be responsible or accountable for ‘their’ mess?!

      I mean, I have never in all my life known such shoddy and unprofessional accountability – from a Government health body that clearly admitted to me that they were clueless as to what the problem was – it was at that point that we took the reigns, so-to-speak!

      As I say, I have written to Fred Horne and Alison Redford and asked them for their intervention – Alison Redford because all this occurred when she was Premier – to which I did write desperately for help but had no reply.

      I have sent both these emails requesting a read receipt – to which none of the windows receipts came back – which tells me whoever opened them clicked the ‘no’ button when I requested one.

      Based on experience of dealing with these people, and fearing they wouldn’t acknowledge they’d actually received it by way of a receipt – I used some very clever and individual tracking software to which both receipts came back giving lots of details – its actually a Notary certificate which really is good even if they click no – it stills discreetly send you details about the opening. I’ll see what reply I get from Ms Redford & Mr Horne.

      A friend of mine who I met after she read my webpage and was totally shocked – but not surprised, was telling me her story from the east Canada and she was butchered beyond belief – again no accountability, no responsibility just left to sort out their cock-ups & mess herself.

      She eventually ended up flying to Bulgaria to get proper and professional medical care to put matters right – at her expense of course! The surgeon in Bulgaria commented that in all his time as a surgeon he’d never seen anything so utterly disgraceful in all his life – and she was very lucky indeed to even be alive after these Canadian butchers had finished botching her.

      She is currently the subject of an interview by the World Health Organisation describing it all which is to be shown on TV – I’ve also written to the WHO sharing my story and hopefully will be given the chance to share ours too!

      Thanks for your reply and help Susan, I think you have done a great job here in providing a much needed awareness of exactly how Alberta is run, and the people who purport to be running it – and no doubt paid handsomely for it – which in mind given the results and propaganda they put out – tends to amount just short of fraud!

      I just fail to see how they can claim to be professional and act like this, then have the audacity to appear on TV saying how fantastic they are?! They’re so deluded its just untrue. I’m not quite sure which is more frightening, the fact they actually believe their own propaganda – or the fact they’re in charge & run the province!?

      Now that really is scary.



  17. ema says:

    I am just after reading the appalling sequence of events in the botched medical saga of Gary Rose’s wife, and the tragic death of Mr. Martinez. (WOW… head hurts!)

    I hope that the Rose family has accessed sound legal advice and that they institute a significant claim, with both AHS and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta, as all other means of communication with the AB Government and AHS seems to have fallen on deaf ears. Unfortunately that may ultimately lead to the family being forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement and we may never know the outcome.

    It seems AHS has ‘deep pockets’ and still continues to pay outrageous severance to former employees, yet this significant case has been ignored. (I note that Dr Chris Eagle was one of the many who failed to respond to emails, yet he was paid $580K for his time at AHS.) It’s an absolute travesty!

    Susan, is there a statute of limitation for such a claim, involving damages and expenses incurred by the family as a result of what appears to be medical malpractice?

    • Ema given the way healthcare is delivered in Alberta the Rose family would likely need to sue the doctor and the hospital as well. You raise a good point about the applicable limitation period. A good malpractice lawyer would know. It’s ridiculous to think that patients have to contemplate litigation just to get an apology and their expenses covered. I’ll see what I can find out re: limitations.

      • Gary says:

        Hi Ladies,

        Thank you for concerns. We have consulted with a lawyer – coincidentally the same lawyer that represented the Martinez family when his son was killed two months later after operating on my wife. You can imagine his shock when we consulted him some 3 years later and mentioned the surgeon only to discover it all happened two months after my wife. I firmly believe had they have listened to our concerns right away – then maybe this surgeons procedure would have been called into question and the Martinez lad would not have died. Sadly, we’ll never know the answer to that one.

        According to the lawyer, he says there is a 2 year limitation to make a claim. However, that starts from the day “you” realised the incident was a result of the surgery or surgeon.

        Although the surgery took place on January 23rd 2010, we did not realize the damage was a result of the surgery until very late 2012 Nov/Dec giving us until the end of the year. Although the surgeon at the UCLA states in his report its obviously from the surgery that nerve damage occurred, he could not find the ‘actual’ damage – not without carving my wife to pieces anyway – all he did was cut the nerves and buried them stop the pain signal travelling to her brain which was that severe it would disable her to the floor immediately. The nerves he cut were directly under the original scar from the original surgery, So effectively, the nerve still sends the signal from the damaged area but it fails to register at the brain because the line has been cut and buried. Which leaves her numb around the stomach area – again something she was not born with – but yet another catastrophe of this operation.

        What happened to the Martinez boy was absolutely disgusting and tragic beyond words. I think what happened to him and count my lucky starts sometimes.

        The lawyers seems to think this is a very complicated case and could take years and a ton of money.. To be honest, he didn’t really seem that interested – maybe because it will definitely open up a can of worms regarding Martinez.

        I tried a second lawyer, she actually agreed but wanted 20k up front during a consultation.

        The way I see things, my wife never had any abdominal issues whatsoever until arriving in Canada, we had been here 3 months when this happened, she was unable to work for 3 years and 7 months because she would drop to the floor 2 to 3 times day – all since this operation. Then 2 years later we see the same surgeon on the TV was in court because Martinez had died, then we find out it was 2 months after my wife’s. The turning point for us was, when they told us both verbally and written that they were clueless, all medical care in Canada had been exhausted and now it was time to manage the pain, and a lifetime of Lyrica!

        I basically told Chris Eagle, John Kortbeek, all the Alberta officials that this was totally unacceptable and I would not tolerate this ‘giving in & lack of interest’ because they’d had enough and hadn’t got the determination to get a professional and proper result.

        With that we walked out and I vowed I would find someone who would sort this problem out. I did, in 25 minutes at the UCLA he’d established what the problem was – you have no idea what a relief that was after every single day seeing my wife collapse to the floor in agony for 3 years and 7 months.

        Alberta Health are extremely embarrassed by all this, and no doubt wish it would all just go away – that’s not going to happen – I want them to do the decent thing here – it is not our fault they dragged this out for 3 years and 7 months – its also not our fault they could not rectify it, it is also not our fault the answer was discovered in under 25 minutes – a great source of embarrassment for them.

        So, we’ll see what Ms Redford and Mr Horne come back with before I try the media – and the UK media too.

        Incidentally, our neighbor also from the UK – had been here 2 months like us, when his 21 year old son was rushed into the Rockyview with an appendicitis – would you believe… He too nearly paid with his life! He’d been left that long they dehydrated him, they then gave him so much liquid they caused a pulmonary edema, they then had to drain him quickly and ruptured his bladder – all this was before they even got the appendix! He was in hospital for month and some…

        This struck a chord with me, both from the UK, both after two months, living 7 doors from each other – there had to be more to this so I did some digging and found a very good article written by a scientist by the name of professor Gillad at the university of Calgary, it describes how the air within Calgary is very rich with sulphur, which can cause health problems and one of the most common and direct illness is an appendicitis! Especially for people who are not used to these levels and then suddenly subjected to it – as in my wife’s case and my neighbor’s son.

        In my wife’s case it was very unusual because the average and most common time for an appendicitis is 8 to 25 then way up into your 60’s on-wards – between 25 & 60 is very uncommon indeed – my wife was 46 at the time.

        To conclude:

        I don’t think I’m asking for anything I’m not entitled to here, out lives have been made hell since we came here as a result of this surgery – it consumed out lives literally in every aspect. So I’m sure you can see why this infuriates me when I see Ms Redford addressing the province saying: We have a World class healthcare” its great propaganda. The reality is very different. I can show no end of people who have been butchered by Canadian physicians and used their life savings to get themselves out of it – then to engage Canadian lawyers who have milked their savings even further, with poor advice and no one – but no one is accountable for all this whatsoever it would seem – both medically & legally – I sort of have to compare it with the Punjab or some other third world country with the morals of bandits and drug dealers – in fact I think you’d care more accountability from them than the AHS.

        I’m sure the AHS do some great work, where they fail is when things go wrong – they just simply do not want to know – you’re effectively on your own.

        Everything we managed to achieve was a fight every single day – no one would take our case and deal with it for us.

        I ask you, would any Alberta Health official, minister or otherwise have been subjected to all this? Nope, they’d have just made the call – all sorted. I was never asking for line jumping or special treatment – I would not do that – all I was ever asking for was HELP!

        Many Thanks…..

        Gary & family.

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